Stories About Myself
1. I’ve Lost Relatives to Cancer and Heart Disease
Twenty years ago, I joined a network marketing company with truly outstanding nutritional products.
Determined to succeed by following instructions, I approached my warm market. I remember one of my aunts, telling me, “I only take what my doctor tells me to.”
At that time, March, she was in her usual health. At a family birthday party in July she complained of pain in her jaw. In November we attended her funeral. Cancer.
I couldn’t convince my mother either. When she complained of problems going to sleep, I gave her a bottle of the company’s mineral supplement, a powder which you were suppposed to add to water and drink just before bedtime because it’s calming.
A few months later, I spotted that bottle in her kitchen cabinet, still almost full, with cobwebs inside it.
My Mother Died of Cancer Several Years Ago
A few years ago, my mother kept going to a chiropractor for back pain. I didn’t think anything of it until he told her he felt a strange lump inside her, and she ought to go to her doctor.
That was the beginning of a 5 1/2 month nightmare that felt like a train wreck. You know, you’re on the train watching it fall off a cliff, but you can’t stop it and you can’t jump off the train.
Because of the location of the lump, they could not do a regular biopsy with a long needle, for fear of puncturing one of her bowels. Therefore, she had to go into the hospital for surgery to take a sample of it. She developed complications and remained there a week.
Then it seemed to take forever for them to decide, to nobody’s surprise, it was malignant, and to set her up with an appointment with an oncologist.
That was painful to me because, although he was certainly polite, I could hear the final outcome and his hopeless resignation to it in his voice when he showed my mother the MRI (which neither of us could understand) and explained surgery would not help her.
My mother survived breast cancer 29 years previously, getting a mastectomy and therapy, and planned to survive this problem the same way.
Since surgery was out, she wanted chemotherapy, so the oncologist set her up for that. I could tell he had no hope for her, but she wanted it, and she had Medicare and private insurance, so he did arrange that for her.
At that point, they couldn’t figure out whether the lump came from her kidneys or her uterus. They never did decide what form of cancer she had.
However, I don’t have the usual horror stories about chemotherapy. First, she had to have a special stent inserted into her chest. That required minor surgery that went well.
I’ve forgotten how many chemotherapy sessions she went to. Not more than three or four. She never lost her hair.
She didn’t suffer great consequences from it. She had already lost most of her appetite, so I had to push her to eat anything. And she was so tired she spent most afternoons out on her porch, sleeping when not talking to friends on the phone. She suffered a lot of pain, but the medication seemed to help a lot.
She also didn’t drink anything. One time when I took her to the chemotherapy center, they found her blood pressure incredibly low because she was so dehydrated. Instead of the chemotherapy drug, they gave her an IV full of water and glucose, then sent her home.
Heading for the Cliff
It’s horrible to remember how she just went steadily downhill. At one point, my sister arranged for the entire family to come over for my mother’s birthday party, and, though it tired her out, she really enjoyed it.
A few weeks later, she fell, hitting her head on the kitchen floor. I called 911. Once in the hospital, she just went that much faster.
At the time, all I could do was ride the train, and deal with the doctors and hospitals and medications. Looking back, I have to wonder how I could have helped more.
I remembered the incident where she refused to take a simple mineral drink to help her sleep although she took whatever a doctor prescribed. (The Greatest Generation believed in authority. Doctors were medical authorities. Much as she loved me, I was not a doctor.)
There’s no way she would have taken any complicated regime of herbs or vitamins or anything else. She certainly would have refused to go to any special clinic.
The Medical System Failed to Try Anything Different
She told me her doctor was open to natural health methods, but he didn’t even prescribe selenium, let alone Essiac tea or essential oils. Instead, he pushed her to drink Boost, a commercial preparation for medical patients. It’s full of sugar, and he suggested she add it to ice cream.
She wasn’t exactly fasting, but she didn’t eat much either, and was tired, so I never realized fasting may have helped her.
Maybe nothing could have saved her.
But none of her doctors even tried anything unconventional. It’s not like they were eager to cut, burn and poison her. They believed nothing would save her, and gave her only the pain medication she needed, and the chemotherapy she requested.
I’ll never know, but don’t tell me how wonderful modern medicine is about treating cancer.
2. Writing Fiction Forced Me to Understand How Other People Experience and React to the World
I’ve enjoyed stories for as long as I can remember. When I was 9 years old, I began writing a novel. I never finished that one, but by age 16 I was submitting short stories to science fiction magazines.
Eventually I did sell a few stories to professional markets. I never gained traction publishing novels so I never made a living at it, but the process made me develop the ability to see from other people’s points of view.
As characters, I’ve been black, white, Hispanic, Native American and Asian. I’ve been a child, a young adult and elderly. I’ve lived in the early stages of the agricultural revolution and the far future. I’ve been male and female, heterosexual and homosexual.
At the same time as a fiction writer expresses the viewpoint of their characters, they must keep in mind the reader.
It’s easy, and common, for writers to forget their readers don’t know things they take for granted. This is common when IT experts write about their subject. They throw around jargon that’s so commonplace to them, they forget few people outside their profession understand the depths of programming and networking.
I’ve seen clients for writing services describe what they need so poorly writers who see their solicitation scratch their heads, figuring the client really wants a mind reader.
It’s not that such clients don’t know what they want, they just don’t know how to communicate what’s in their minds by using words on paper, which is why they need writers to do it for them.
Many novice fiction writers make the same error. If you’ve ever read a story and got lost in the action, chances are the writer forgot to describe something the main character did.
Writing *well* — in both fiction and nonfiction — is not about “beautiful” words, but about using words to communicate the content.
In copywriting, it’s about communicating facts and benefits through emotionally powerful stories to move the prospect to buy.
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